Standing Tall

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-03-03
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press

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"Lots of people have dreams, but C. Vivian Stringer . . . lives that dream, teaching others to rise up to meet challenges, turning underdogs into champions again and again--on and off the court. This is the quintessential American story, of a woman and of a family pulling together against the odds"--John Chaney, Hall of Fame college basketball coach.

Author Biography

C. VIVIAN STRINGER is the head coach of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. A member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, she has been named National Coach of the Year three times by her peers. She was formerly the head coach of the University of Iowa women’s basketball team and the Cheyney State women’s basketball team. She was also the assistant coach for the gold medal–winning 2004 U.S. Olympic team. Born in Edenborn, Pennsylvania, she has two sons, David and Justin, and a daughter, Nina. She lives in New Jersey.

LAURA TUCKER has coauthored books on a wide range of topics. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter.

From the Hardcover edition.


Standing Tall
Excerpted from Chapter 4

Bill and I got married in September 1971. We had waited a long time–five years–and had gotten to know each other really well. I always wanted to be out and doing something, and Bill was game for whatever I wanted to do. Interestingly, Bill was nothing like the stereotype of the black male athlete. He was an amazingly talented gymnast and a fantastic volleyball player, and, like me, he played field hockey in a league. He’d been awarded a dance scholarship to UCLA. But basketball? No. I think I was a better basketball player than he was; in fact, I know I was. We were pretty evenly matched otherwise, though. We’d put our tennis rackets on our bikes, pack a picnic, and go out to spend the day together–just a girl and a guy doing ordinary things.

He was my best friend.

Part of the reason we took so long to get married had to do with the way I was raised. My father preached independence for women long before it was fashionable to do so. There was no way any of the Stoner girls was going to marry a man because she was looking to be taken care of; my father would have found that revolting. We had to be in control of our own lives. He had a way of making fun of me or my sisters if we ever looked like we were too dependent on someone. You never wanted him to catch you waiting for a boy to call, for instance; he’d tease you until you cried.

My mother didn’t get involved in the emotional ups and downs of being a young person, either. She just wasn’t that way. We’ve all talked about that since then; I’m not sure it’s a great idea to make your kids feel embarrassed for showing emotions or getting attached. I know that I never felt like I could share real disappointment with my parents, and neither did my siblings; we had to be strong and act like everything was fine. I’m sorry to say that I got a little of that from them. I sometimes wish that I’d been more affectionate with Bill. We held hands all the time, and there’s no question that Bill knew that I loved him, but I probably could have been more expressive. In later years, I think sometimes I hugged and kissed our boys all the time as a substitute for how much I wanted to hug and kiss Bill.

To this day, I’m not sure whether Bill proposed, or whether I did. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point I just said to him, “Why don’t we get married?” Since the early days of our relationship, he’d talked about what our lives would be like when we were married, so making the decision was nothing dramatic. But once we had decided, he visited my father to ask for my hand. Bill knew that when you got engaged to one of the Stoners, you weren’t just marrying one of us; you were marrying the whole clan. Everyone had to be in agreement.
Everybody in my family got along with Bill; they respected him. As anybody would tell you, “Bill Stringer is about truth.” If you wanted to get the whole, unvarnished truth about something, you could ask him, and he would tell you. He would be gentle, but he would be honest.

Bill was very different from my father, but there were some things that they had in common. Both of them were very solid and dependable, and both shared a real ease with people and a real interest in them. I used to say that either of them could be equally comfortable sitting down with the winos on the corner or having dinner with heads of state. They just had that kind of touch.

After Bill had spoken with my father, he surprised me during Christmas with a little star sapphire ring with two itty-bitty diamonds on the side. When he gave it to me, he told me, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I don’t have any money or anything to demonstrate that I can take care of you, but I promise you that I will.” He wanted me to know that he was just sta

Excerpted from Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph by C. Vivian Stringer
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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